Having completely run out of money (and when I say 'run out of money', what I really mean is 'hit my overdraft limit') until I am paid on the 5th, I am currently relying on other people to take pity on me and buy me food. Luckily I do also have a few portions of food in the freezer to heat up when no one is willing or able to feed me. There is an element of fun in this, as I didn't think to label said portions and when frozen they all look like brownish sludge so it's a bit of a lucky dip as to whether I get beef in beer, chilli con carne, or vegetable dhansak for my tea.
So last night, Jamie felt sorry enough for me and my starvation (not melodramatic at all...) to take me out for curry at Rishi's on George Street. Most of the Indian restaurants in Aberdeen are actually run by Pakistanis, apparently, but my flatmate was on placement with a teacher originally from India who recommended Rishi's as the best place for authentic South Indian food.
For those of you who don't know, last summer I spent five weeks in Chennai, Tamil Nadu with Beyond Barriers, and one of my favourite things about the trip was the food, which was nothing like the curries you get in most restaurants in the UK. So I was very much looking forward to experiencing all my favourite dishes again, and Jamie was looking forward to tasting all the things I've been banging on about for the past nine months.
Due to India's win at the cricket yesterday the restaurant was absolutely heaving, so we were put in an upstairs room normally reserved for parties. It was just us and a massive table of twenty or so Indians. The decor at the restaurant isn't great - pretty bare and mismatched - but we were there for the food, not the look of the place!
Despite being so busy, service was really prompt and attentive. They kept apologising for 'the wait'. What wait?!
I may have become a little over-excited in my ordering, and we ended up with a table absolutely heaving with Tiffin items, curry, rice, and breads.
We had a dosa between us, which was served with three types of chutney (coriander, coconut, and onion, I think) and sambar (a slightly spicy South Indian sauce made with lentils). A dosa is a bit like a very thin, crispy pancake, and tastes amazing with the chutneys and sambar.
We also ordered idli, which are like rice-cakes. They too come with the chutneys and sambar and although quite plain on their own, soak up the flavours of the chutneys really well. The other tiffin item we had was poori masala - a puffy deep-fried bread served with spicy potatoes.
Curry-wise I had kadai paneer. Paneer is a type of Indian cheese. I would describe it as a cross between halloumi and cottage cheese. My curry was made with various spices and tomatoes. When in India I loved the curries made with paneer, so I loved being able to eat it again! I was also very much enjoying, much to Jamie's disgust, being able to eat with my fingers without receiving any odd looks. Though I did discover how out of practice I am! I had become used to doing it when in India, but felt clumsy and unco-ordinated attempting it again last night. It was nice, though, for anyone who (like Jamie) prefers to eat curry with a knife and fork, to see that the waitress automatically gave us cutlery while the Indians at the other table weren't given any. Curry definitely tastes better when eaten with fingers, though admittedly it is messy!
Jamie had a lamb dish, and the lamb was beautifully tender, falling apart in my fingers (and on his fork). We shared some lemon rice - another thing I have missed since first tasting it in Chennai. I have to say, though, that the lemon rice at Rishi's was nowhere near as good as Anjali's! (Anjali cooked most of our food when we were in India.) She was a particularly good cook though, so we won't hold it against Rishi's.
Another thing I really appreciated was that the waitress asked us how spicy we would like our curries. We both opted for 'medium', but Jamie was concerned it would still be too spicy, so the waitress said it wouldn't be a problem to send it back if he found it too much. Again: excellent, excellent service.
I found everything we had to be fairly mild, but Jamie thought it was very spicy and his bright red face and watery eyes confirmed this! So if you are a bit sensitive to spicy food (though Jamie claims he is not sensitive to spicy food: I am just hardened to it) and go to Rishi's, simply ask for your curry to be made a bit milder - they don't have any problems with such a request. And order a mango lassi to soothe your burning mouth! Lassi is a yoghurt drink, and at Rishi's you can choose from sweet, salt or mango. I ordered a sweet lassi to begin with, and Jamie had a Kingfisher, but after finding the curry too hot he also ordered a mango lassi. I tasted it and immediately regretted my decision to have a sweet one! Although mine was delicious, the mango one tasted so strongly of fresh juicy mangoes that it transported me straight back to Chennai, eating fresh mango each evening, stuffed after a beautiful meal cooked by Anjali.
We rounded off our meal with a cup of chai each. It was deliciously sweet, and Jamie was taken with the metal cups it was served in, but again, it didn't quite match up to Anjali's.
The bill was also a pleasant surprise, being less than we expected. The curries are about £5.99, while the tiffin items are £2-3 each.
We will definitely be going back there to try all the other things, like Chicken 65, that I had to restrain myself from ordering.
Having ordered such a ridiculous amount of food we, of course, couldn't finish it all. But the staff were happy to bag it up for us to take home and I'm looking forward to having the rest of my curry for tea tonight. Plus, it saves me defrosting one of my mystery meals!
Edited to add: Jamie says, 'You made me sound like a wuss! It may be partially true, but that chilli would have melted even Charlie Sheen's face off!'
So there you have it.